House panel wants 'calibrated' easing of ECQ

Published April 15, 2020, 2:12 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The Peace and Order Cluster of the Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC) in the House of Representatives has sought the implementation of a “selective and calibrated” enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) policy to stimulate “back to normalcy activities.”

House of the Representatives (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)
House of the Representatives (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The subpanel, co-chaired by Iloilo 5th district Rep. Raul Tupas and Masbate 1st district Rep. Narciso “Bong” Bravo made the recommendation in a draft report dated April 7 to DCC, even as it expressed its support to the extension of the ECQ until April 30.

“Given the varying conditions and extent of transmission in communities and localities, it might be beneficial to the greater majority if the government implements a selective and calibrated ECQ policy in order to stimulate “back to normalcy activities,” it said in its nine-page report.

It explained that under the proposed calibrated ECQ policy, the national and local governments shall be required to carefully assess the situation per area and institute appropriate measures.

“These measures may include the issuance of passes or permits to workers (particularly the informal sector) so that they may travel to their place of work with ease,” it added.

The Peace and Order Cluster asked the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to provide the breakdown of COVID-19 positive patients who are admitted to the hospitals and on home quarantine as well as those persons under monitoring and under investigation disaggregated by region, city or province, and barangay.

“This shall be a key element in the proper determination of the Subcommittee’s proposal for a selective and calibrated ECQ order,” it noted.

In the draft report, the subpanel warned that anti-government factions or groups may use the pandemic crisis as an “opportunity to sow disunity, and to provoke and encourage civil unrest to undermine the credibility of the government,” citing the Kadamay rally incident in Quezon City.

It called on the law enforcement agencies to coordinate with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and issue “clear and strict protocols” in handling similar incidents.

“Local government units must abide by national policies and the protocols and measures set by the national. There should be uniformity of implementation,” the cluster said.

Citing that the law enforcement agencies are “critical actors” in the government’s fight against COVID-19, the cluster asked the government to grant the supplemental budgets requested by the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for the procurement of personal protective equipment, medicines, and disinfecting supplies to be utilized in their operations.

“Our law enforcement agencies must be self-sufficient, particularly in the field. Thus, the budgetary requirements for the uniformed personnel must be prioritized for downloading,” it said.

It noted that as of April 1, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P506 million for PNP, P3.5 million for BFP, and P11 million for BJMP to cover the funding requirements for COVID-19 response.

The cluster also recommended the immediate release of the supplemental fund to cover the full payment of COVID-19 hazard pay to all government personnel who physically report for working during ECQ, including frontline law enforcement personnel.

Citing that law enforcement personnel are faced with the same hazards as health workers, the cluster asked the government to also grant compensation to PNP personnel who may contract severe COVID-19 infection and who may die while in the line of duty as provided under Section 4 (f) of Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

“Also, the government should include PNP personnel among those eligible to receive compensation of P100,000 should they exhibit the severe-symptoms of COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty, and a compensation of P1 million to those who die while in the line of duty, similar to the compensation granted to health workers,” it said.

It also called on the government to study whether all frontline workers who deal directly with COVID-19 patients or potential carriers of the virus should be granted the COVID-19 hazard pay. “This may include immigration Officers at disembarkation points, barangay tanods and others, the subpanel said.

In its report, the panel also cited the “urgent and critical need to further streamline protocols in the transportation of goods to ensure faster and continuous delivery of essential goods and supplies” as many provinces are already short in stocks of basic goods and other essentials. #